"Obviously, the big hole is Nick Lidstrom not being here, and I need to let everyone know, I’m not coming in here to be Nick Lidstrom," Colaiacovo said after his first day of practice with his new teammates. "No one can come in here and replace Nick Lidstrom. He was one of the best players to ever play this game."
Colaiacovo, who turns 30 on Jan. 27, certainly isn't Lidstrom but still believes he can help the Wings.
"(I'm) a guy that can move the puck, play the power play, play in all types of situations," Colaiacovo said. "I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the guys on defense here. I’m pretty familiar with a lot of them, and they can all pretty much do the same things that I do,
"At the end of the day, we just want to put the puck in our forwards' hands. They’ve got all the skill and are world-class players. That’s what I’m ultimately going to try and do."
At the end of December, Colaiacovo was playing for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup tournament and hurt his shoulder on a hit by one of his new teammates, Damien Brunner.
"It was actually him that pushed me from behind into the boards," said Colaiacovo, whose shoulder remains sore. "It was just one of those things, obviously not intentional."
Colaiacovo's decision to sign with Detroit wasn't just one of those things, though. After years of playing against the Red Wings -- with Toronto and then St. Louis -- he targeted them as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason.
"I had opportunities to go elsewhere, but the first team on my list was always Detroit," Colaiacovo said. "You know what kind of team they are and the way they play with puck possession.
"They’re a team full of world-class players. I saw it as a good fit for myself after coming off the kind of year I had last year."
Colaiacovo had two goals and 17 assists and was plus-7 in 64 games with the Blues in 2011-12. His best statistical season also came with the Blues, in 2009-10, when he had seven goals and 25 assists and was plus-8 in 67 games.
When Colaiacovo is completely healthy, it might make sense to pair him with Ian White, who played with Colaiacovo in Toronto.
"He'll fit in well," White said. "He's a quick player, he's a puck-mover, likes to jump into the play.
"I got the opportunity to play with him over a couple years in Toronto, so we were pairs for a little bit of that time, too, so I got a little bit of chemistry with him."
Colaiacovo said he'd be happy to play again with White -- or with any of the Wings' other defensemen.
"It really doesn’t matter who I play with. I can play with Smitty (Brendan Smith). You look at with how I played with a young guy like (Alex) Pietrangelo last year. I consider myself a veteran guy that can help out the young guys, whether it’s with Qunce (Kyle Quincey), (Jonathan) Ericsson or Kronny (Niklas Kronwall) or Jakub (Kindl).
"At the end of the day, this is a team that competes to win the Cup every year. I’m just excited to be a part of that, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to help out in that cause."